Roots & Wonders

Discovering the mental development of humankind


It is easy to get lost in the data jungle of the internet and the social media. You come across so many different, sometimes weird ideas and experiences. How do these affect your mental map of the world?

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“The Creation is still ongoing” Let’s start with the key question: is the universe incidental, random without purpose and therefore ultimately meaningless? Or has the world been created by God, corrupted by mankind and waiting to be saved and perfected by God?  It is becoming increasingly clear that the creation had never been completed, but is still ongoing! The universe is evolving. Life has become increasingly diverse...

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“Cooperation more so than competition has supported the evolution of life” For years scientists have been searching for the origin of life. They do so in mainly two ways: the first route compares plants and animals with fossils from a distant past. The second approach explores in the laboratory, how primitive organisms can grow out of simple chemical reactions. The first method is based on a strong relationship between all forms of...

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How can I know what I think, when I have not yet heard what I say?! (handicapped child) Words can make a strong impression and stick. This applies to us, but perhaps even more so to primitive people.  Old Indian traditions greatly valued reticence, just because one appreciated the power of words. By speaking a word, one creates a reality. Words are not just strengthening the ability to think. They are the source of thinking.  By...

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Neanderthals (or pre-modern man) probably had a morality of so called direct reciprocity: I will treat you like you treat me, so both of us can be better off. This works well in small groups. But when our modern ancestors started to live together in larger groups, people did not know all groups members by name anymore. In such cases word language offered a novel way to cooperate: on the basis of a good reputation. If you treat other...

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In bigger groups people need to deal with new forms of cooperation and competition. They encounter a social world that is both overwhelming and threatening; creative and destructive, powerful as well as violent. How to find a way in this new world? It will be vital to transfer knowledge and experience in a way that can easily be memorized- like stories and rituals. All religious traditions have rites and myths, intended to preserve...

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When hunter-gatherers became farmers their dwelling place, social life and religion changed dramatically. By domesticating plants and animals farmers acquired property. Harvest surpluses were stored and exchanged for goods. People started trading, some got rich and others poor. Strong and clever people were admired as ever, but strength and brains are not necessarily transferred to children. Possessions and debt are. Some acquire...

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WRITING (1500BC) “Writing unlocks the future, not just the past.” In prehistoric times knowledge had to be memorized and transferred from person to person. This requires such much effort that there was little room for innovation. Oral cultures are traditional: “the truth is not new and novelty is not true”. But writing is going to change this. On the one hand writing instead of speaking does impoverish communication. On the other...

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